Posted by: atowhee | July 24, 2016


This time of year some birds are still raising young, many fledglings are getting their first experience in the real world, migratory urges are starting to pull some species into flocks (swallows lined up along a powerline for example). And there’s just a lot of interesting stuff to see, if you stop and watch.

  • Recently I saw a Collared-Dove harassing a Crow.  So much for dove of peace.  I suspect the Crow was hanging around where the dove had  a nest.
  • A young House Finch has showed up in our garden, completely without any hint of bright color.
  • We have two Juncos in our garden, one male and one female.  Each has white feathers on one wing.  Siblings?  They are in adult plumage.
  • Two Red-breasted Nuthatches arrived simultaneously at our feeder recently.  One swooped in with a loud whirring sound, the usual honk just given multiple times with no rest in between.  Never heard that before and these tykes honk around our garden every day.
  • The Starlings that bred in our garage roof and then raided the feeders daily in June are gone off to join their rural cousins…I guess.  Haven’t seen them for two weeks.
  • The Anna’s Hummingbird has now found our feeder after it hung in place for two weeks.
  • We lost very few of our blueberries to birds.  I am pleasantly surprised.rbn flat (1280x960) spto-1 (1280x960) spto-fed (1280x960) sqrl-a (1280x960) sqrl-b (1280x960) sqrl-c (1280x960) (1280x960) sqrl-D (1280x960)
Posted by: atowhee | July 24, 2016


There’s article in today’s “NYTimes” on how man and honeyguides interact, to the benefit of both in southern Africa.

We see more passive interplay between man and bird with TVs, raptors, crows or gulls following hay mowing machines in America.  In Panama I saw both herons and caracara following a mowing tractor there.  It’s long been known that Ravens ally themselves with Inuit hunting parties in caribou country, and also work side-by-side with wolf packs.  In Europe the Robin there will often follow a gardener around, waiting for the insects and worms that may be displaced and thrust onto the Robinesque menu.  Anybody feeding birds regularly will be familiar with those that learn to demand food: hummers, Wild Turkeys, jays of all sorts.

“Where is my peanut?”

“Come refill my feeder.”


Posted by: atowhee | July 24, 2016


There’s a Great Gray Owl hunting up along Steinman Road south of Ashland these days.  Here’s a picture sent to me by Brandie Lynn who is a neighbor of the visiting owl for the time being.  She’s seen the bird be a successful hunter several times.  The grassy pastures thereabouts are going to seed and attracting plenty of small rodents.ggo_BrandiLynnThis area is east of Old Highway 99 South where that road makes a loop back over itself between Emigrant Lake and Callahan’s at Exit 6 on I-5.  Elevation is 3100 feet.  Habitat is scattered rural homes in an open, dryland forest of white oak, ponderosa, scrub trees and unmown grasslands.  Most of the land is NOT used as pasture so the treeless areas and rodents are undisturbed.  A few years back Brandie had a GGO hunt from the railing on her porch.  This is the season when she sees these birds in her area.  This is likely an adult bird done with the year’s nesting and breeding duties…if, indeed, this bird nested this year.  It could be a yearling and not old enough to mate.

Brandie says this bird has been in area for a few days now.  Sometimes it is visible and active in daytime.

If you are interested in learning more about these owls, here’s information on the book about them that was written by Peter Thiemann and I.

Posted by: atowhee | July 22, 2016


A brief stop at Tualatin River NWR yesterday afternoon.  Shorebird festival underway.  They were all too far away for pictures.  But the buzzy warbles were near at hand:LAZ SINGS (1280x960) LAZ2GBH ALERT (1280x960) GBH DUX (1280x960)

Tualatin River NWR–Atfálat’i Unit, Washington, Oregon, US
Jul 21, 2016 3:00 PM – 3:45 PM.
18 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  40
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  75
Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)  10
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  4
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
American Coot (Fulica americana)  8
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  12
Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca)  2
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)  1
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  40
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)  16
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  4
Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena)  1
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  30
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  1

View this checklist online at

Posted by: atowhee | July 18, 2016


Shorbird season is upon us.  A short visit to Baskett Slough this afternoon yielded five shorebird species.  Best spot of the trip, though, was a single Black Tern.  Also there were juveniles of both Coot and Pied-billed Grebe splashing about.2 BY 2--COOT PBG Grebes on right with zebra-striping.  Coots on left and below.YNG COOT (1280x960)One of each: PBG TWO (1280x960) LEANIN GREG (1280x960)     SPSA AFAR (1280x960)Spotty above, dowitchers on the far side  of pond (below):SHORE5 (1280x960) TWO GBH (1280x960)Meadow of mint: MINT MEADO (1280x960) BIG MINTNutria: NUTRIA IN POND (1280x960)

Baskett Slough NWR, Polk, Oregon, US
Jul 18, 2016 4:15 PM – 4:55 PM.  20 species

Gadwall (Anas strepera)  1
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  25
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  6
Great Egret (Ardea alba)  2
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  3
American Coot (Fulica americana)  6
Black-necked Stilt (Himantopus mexicanus)  3
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  4
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  1
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  4
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)  15
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)  1
Vaux’s Swift (Chaetura vauxi)  1
American Kestrel (Falco sparverius)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  4
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  5
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  30
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  40
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  1
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3

Posted by: atowhee | July 17, 2016


It’s almost dark and 930PM as I write this.  A Barred Owl is hooting not far from my open window here in McMinnville.

It’s dispersal time here in Yamhill as both young and old birds leave breeding areas to wander in search of good eating.  Today there were five Spotted Sandpipers at Yamhill Sewer Ponds today.  A month ago: none.  At least two were white-breasted fledglings.sp (1280x960) Spott-Juv1 (1280x960) SPOTT-JUV2 (1280x960)GBH-A1 (1280x960) GBH-A2 (1280x960)Streaked throat means this is a juvenile heron. GBH-A3 (1280x960) GBH-A4 (1280x960) Kest on post (1280x960)In my back yard, sluggo: Sluggo (1280x960) SPARO (1280x960)  WCSP-JUV (1280x960) WCSP-JUVE3 (1280x960)Juvie White-crowned Sparrow, freshly minted. SPARO FLIES (1280x960)

Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 17, 2016 4:00 PM.  14 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  26
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  30
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1
Green Heron (Butorides virescens)  1, along the creek
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  5
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  X
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  2
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  4
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
White-crowned Sparrow   1 juvenile
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  6

View this checklist online at

Posted by: atowhee | July 17, 2016


The human world is such a sorry mess right now I need plenty of bird time.  Here’s another blogger’s version of how his garden activity keeps him going.

So to help myself to feeling less a part of the outside world, I have been going through old images from previous bird outings.  Here are some goodies, presented randomly:nor shrikNorthern Shrike, above, at Nisqually.  Wilson’s Warbler , male.P2720765 (1280x960) P2720832 (1280x960)Sora family NIGHTHAWK IN DAYTIME Sora, Malheur.sora closeOrchard Oriole, vagrant spotted at Page Springs a couple years back.  This bird was an Oregon lifer for Slan Contreras after my Klamath Bird Observatory group first spotted it. orch-oriole (2)Sagebrush Sparrow eyeballing cameraman. SAGE SPAR FACESnowy Plover: snoplo2Hand-tamed Snowy Egret.


Enjoy, breath deeply, smile.

Posted by: atowhee | July 15, 2016


The dog and I were up in the foothills of the Coast Range, and birding along High Heaven Road late this afternoon.bee on flwr (1280x960) beeupp (1280x960)P2740704 (1280x960) foxglv P2740676 (1280x960) P2740681 (1280x960)  Stllr (1280x960) tv sores (1280x960)

High Heaven Road, Yamhill County, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 15, 2016 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM.  12 species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Band-tailed Pigeon (Patagioenas fasciata)  3
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  1
Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri)  5
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus)  15
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  4
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)  2
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  4

Posted by: atowhee | July 15, 2016


In the air: Vaux’s Swifts, Turkey Vulture, an occasional Bald Eagle…and spider webs. Most of the webs around our garden are built by small spiders and are attached to structures and trees.WEB1 WEB2Click here for a link that shows spider weaving an orb web…in slo-mo with pianist accompaniment.

Web-weaving spiders have several spinnerets on their abdomen. Each spinneret produces a SPECIFIC kind of silk, of which there are several varieties, some thinner than others, some sticky, some simply used for structural strength.

The web silk is quite thin and can only be seen because of reflected light.  The silk is strong enough to stop an insect in flight, yet it is also flexible and can stretch up to 40% (nylon can do about 20%).  Yet the silk has more strength than steel fibers of the same diameter.  Spiders have been evolving their use of silk for at least 100-million years.

The web silk contains a lot of protein and the spider often eats the web on the morning to re-capture that protein.

Here’s description of spider silk on a University of Bristol website: “The dragline silk of the Golden Orb-Weaving spider is the most studied in scientific research.  Spider silk is a natural polypeptide, polymeric protein and is in the scleroprotein group which also encompasses collagen (in ligaments) and keratin (nails and hair).  These are all proteins which provide structure.  The protein in dragline silk is fibroin (Mr 200,000-300,000) which is a combination of the proteins spidroin 1 and spidroin 2.  The exact composition of these proteins depends on factors including species and diet.  Fibroin consists of approximately 42% glycine and 25% alanine as the major amino acids.  The remaining components are mostly glutamine, serine, leucine, valine, proline, tyrosine and arginine.  Spidroin 1 and spidroin 2 differ mainly in their content of proline and tyrosine.”

roughieRough-winged Swallow above.   Warbling Vireo showing his belly: wavi2Wood-Pewee in the bright sun. wpw looksIt was another glorious, blue-sky day:sky1Wennerberg’s oaks were waving gently in the soft afternoon breezes along North Yamhill River: sky2

Wennerberg Park, Carlton, OR, Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 14, 2016 4:00 PM – 4:45 PM
8 species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  X
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  1
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  10
Purple Finch (Haemorhous purpureus)  1
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)  X

Posted by: atowhee | July 12, 2016


I saw my first migrating shorebirds of the season today, a pair of Least Sandpipers picking tidbits out of the scum along the edge of one of the Yamhill city sewer ponds.LESA1 lesa2These Leasts are adult birds.  The juveniles are still back on the breeding territory which only extends as far south as southern Alaska and the Yukon Territory. lesa3I tried to pish out a Song Sparrow and got this officious female Anna’s Hyummingbird instead.  I had just been watching her buzzing around with her two new fledglings in the willows at Wennerberg Park.anhu fml anhummBronw Creeper, Yamhill Sewer Ponds: BC ON OAK BC ON OAK2 BC ON OAK3 BC ON OAK4 BC ON OAKI3 Bewick’s Wren, Yamhill S.P. BEWR CU BEWR IN YAM BEWR IN YAM2 BEWR IN YAM3The end: BEWR BACKCanada Goose family, kids in the middle. CAGO FAMILYHooded Mergansers in foreground: HOME ON PNDRed-tail in field along Baker Creek Road: RTHA IN FIELDMINT mo glo P2740597 teasel

Yamhill Sewage Ponds (restricted access), Yamhill, Oregon, US
Jul 12, 2016 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM.  19 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  5
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  50
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus)  4
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  1
Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla)  2     my first migrant shorebirds of the season
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  6
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  1
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana)  1
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)  2
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  X
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)  1
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1
Brewer’s Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus)  4

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